Dissident republicans are attempting to forge links with Islamic extremists in an effort to bolster their terrorist capabilities, Jeffrey Donaldson has warned.
The DUP MP, who sits on the Commons’ defence committee, was responding to BBC claims that the bomb used to attack police officers in west Belfast on Friday contained newly-acquired Semtex explosive.
Mr Donaldson said he had no information that the latest bomb blast was the result of a fresh Semtex shipment, but said there remained a concern that it could find its way into the Province from eastern Europe - or from Islamic sources.
“We do know that dissidents have been making strenuous efforts, in eastern Europe in particular, to acquire new weaponry and explosives, and it may be that the have been able to procure Semtex in eastern Europe.
“I think that is the more likely location but I wouldn’t rule out other possibilities including links that they have tried to develop with Islamic extremists,” Mr
When asked if the UK’s security services were alerted to the possibility of dissidents attempting to access weaponry through Islamic extremists, Mr Donaldson replied: “Absolutely.”
“It remains to be seen whether these claims made by dissident republicans are accurate, but we do know that the former quartermaster general of the Provisional IRA was able to transfer a significant quantity of Semtex from the IRA’s bunkers before decommissioning occurred, and when he defected to the Real IRA,” he said.
Aileen Quinton, who lost her mother in the Enniskillen bomb, said she “wasn’t surprised” at the claims.
“For anybody who really did think this was all over it would be more shocking,” she added.